Real estate agents aren’t allowed to “steer” customers by providing information to buyers about critical but subjective things like neighborhood and school reputations. It might lead to discrimination.
But in recent years, Zillow, Realtor.com, Curbed and other real estate sites have begun to fill in the gap to provide intelligent insight. In some cases, they can provide neighborhood guides or blogs, neighbor polls, and data on sales trends, school scores, etc.
Localize, a New York City mobile app that was founded in 2015 and raised $11 Million, takes data-based journalism for residential and commercial real estate a step further. Like other real estate, city guide and mapping sites, Localize, a “free insights engine,” incorporates data such as transportation and school data. But it also adds nuance with more categories (i.e. dog parks, Citi Bike stations, community gardens, libraries).
More uniquely, the site, which is profiled in today’s Wall Street Journal, incorporates 3D maps. It also has a team of journalists and data scientists evaluating census and government data, such as construction permits, neighboring lot information, airport flight paths, etc.
A search on a midtown Manhattan building, for instance, revealed “14 insights” centered in five categories: “Prices”, “Community,” “Transportation,” “Liveability” and “Nuisance.” The site warned me that the topic of my search was on a street that suffered from lots of truck traffic and that public transportation access was being overhauled, but would be extensively improved by 2023.
In fact, the building I searched on was next to Grand Central Station. The site impressively pulled up a rendering of what the model will look like when it is finished. It also noted that there were many low- income seniors in the immediate proximity.
Some of the information that Localize has gathered is impressive, at least on paper. For instance, the WSJ profile warned that a four story walk up in Brooklyn with partial river views could have those views blocked by future high- rise construction under a rezoning of the Greenpoint waterfront.
The site, however, doesn’t always hit a home run. The WSJ profile noted that locals find some of the data scraping and analysis to be common knowledge and overly-simplistic (a complaint we hear about other guide-like media.) But it is definitely worth checking out.